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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Divrei Torah

A Grandfather’s Crown

The following was presented on Father-Son Learning Day at Yeshiva Heichal HaTorah, delivered to the students of his grandson, Rabbi Zev Senter.

Sixty years ago, my wife’s zeide, Rav Moshe Aaron Poleyeff, z”l, spoke at our sheva brachos. In honor of his granddaughter, he explained a pasuk

Beshalach and The Gathering

The triumph at the Red Sea was convincing and final. Watching their former taskmasters washing up on the jagged banks of the ocean convinced the doubtful slaves that their freedom was final and that their Divine protection impermeable. This newfound confidence and faith erupted in national song and ambitious language. Their

Beshalach: Recognizing Hashem’s Ongoing Miracles

Many years ago in Europe, a wealthy Jewish businessman made his living exporting lumber from Kovno to America. One time, an export official wouldn’t clear his shipment for export. His lumber was stuck at the port…for a long time. He was very apprehensive that he would lose a lot money because of the delay, and in the interim he

Bo: The Importance of Jewish Culture

Moshe’s initial daring message of redemption went unheeded by the Jewish population. The Torah describes the national state of kotzer ru’ach and avoda kasha; the slaves were so back broken by heavy labor and Egyptian persecution that they couldn’t even dream of their liberation. Beyond their own inability to imagine

Parshas Bo: Externals Matter

Someone once wrote a letter to the great Rav Moshe Feinstein, asking him if individuals should remove their yarmulkes when walking into places of questionable repute. Rav Moshe replied “no”—the whole reason the rabbis instituted wearing a yarmulke is to remind us that Hashem is constantly watching our actions. It’s been

Parshat Bo: Psychological Redemption

Imagine it’s December 1932, and you’re preparing to light Chanukah candles in Kiel, Germany, where, across the street, stands the headquarters of the Nazi Party. Consider the Jews who survived the concentration camps and remained steadfast to their faith, never losing hope. Where did these Jews, and countless others throughout

How Far Would You Go for a Bracha?

Part II

Two years ago I wrote about my journey of nearly 3,500 miles to get a blessing (bracha) from a very special gentleman in Manchester, England. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Chaim Ferster, a 94-year-old man who had common Holocaust experiences with my late father. They had been

Parshas Shemos: Building a True Jewish Home

Parents invest thousands of dollars in the education of their children, seeing it as a critical tool in their success. Schooling is not the only component in the development of successful children, however. A yeshiva will give the child a good education, but the relationship of parent to child and the environment and atmosphere of

Va’eira: How to Resist Pressures

Last week I made an amazing discovery. It’s called the silent mode on my cell phone. No ringing for incoming phone calls, no vibrating noises for new emails, no pinging for new texts or WhatsApp messages. I tried it out for an hour while I was studying with my chavrusa. Not surprisingly, my focus and concentration were

Shemot: Patterns of Hate

While Western civilization views history as evolutionary and open-ended, Judaism views it is cyclical and predetermined. At several points in our tefillah we recite the verse from Eichah: “Chadesh yameinu k’kedem” (restore the days of old) to punctuate our conviction that ultimately history will revert back to its origins.

Shifra, Puah and PMADs

Beginning this week, when we read Parshat Shemot, through mid-February, when we read Parshat Tetzaveh, we find ourselves in a period of the Jewish calendar known as “Shovavim Tat”—an acronym made of the first letter of Parshiot Shemot through Tetzaveh. During this time, in Jewish communities across the world, husbands and

Parshas Vayechi: A Guaranteed Return on Investment

The calendar year is coming to a close. Investment firms are reminding us to contribute to our IRAs before year-end. Nonprofits are sending emails to contribute now to gain our tax deductions. Everyone is looking to get the biggest bang for the buck. In our lives, and in our parsha as well, the theme is getting our affairs in order